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Dominic Thiem & Alexander Zverev: The Rivalry

  • Posted: May 10, 2020

Dominic Thiem & Alexander Zverev: The Rivalry

Learn more about the rivalry between the Austrian star and the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion

Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev are well into their ATP Head2Head rivalry, one that promises to thrill fans for years to come.

The players have different games — Thiem wields heavier groundstrokes and a two-handed backhand, whereas Zverev is backed by one of the best two-handed backhands in the sport. Those differences have made for fun rallies and close, compelling matches. 

”We have no secrets from each other, we’ve played so many times, also on very special occasions. It’s a nice rivalry we have,” Thiem said. looks back at each of their previous matches, with Thiem leading their series 7-2. Only three of those matches have ended in straight sets.

2020 Australian Open SF, Hard, Thiem def. Zverev 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-6(4)
Zverev entered this match having broken through to his first Grand Slam semi-final, which was especially significant considering he had never made a major quarter-final outside of Roland Garros. The 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion entered the match in devastating form, having lost only one set in his first five matches.

But Thiem relied on his heavy groundstrokes — especially his one-handed backhand — and big-match experience to battle through. Despite losing the first set and facing two set points in the third set, the Austrian earned his third straight win against Zverev with a three-hour, 42-minute victory. The win also helped Thiem climb to a career-high No. 3 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

“I felt nerves, having put in so much energy,” said Thiem. “My stomach was rebelling a bit. I have it a little, when it’s close and a tough match. It’s not nice to play return games, when he’s hitting so many first serves. I didn’t have a look, really, in the fourth set… Thank goodness there is a tie-break in tennis, otherwise we’d still be playing.”

2019 Nitto ATP Finals SF, Hard, Thiem def. Zverev 7-5, 6-3
Zverev won the biggest title of his career at The O2 in 2018, and he put himself two wins from retaining the trophy in 2019. But Thiem, who won the BNP Paribas Open earlier in the year, enjoyed a breakthrough season on hard courts, and showed his improvement on the surface against the German.

Thiem saved all four break points he faced, biding his time for the key moments in a straight-sets triumph.

“This is just a big, big dream coming true for me. It is one of the best tournaments all year, one of the most prestigious tournaments all year, and I’m getting the chance to play the final… It’s unreal to me,” Thiem said. “To beat the defending champion, a good player, an unbelievable player, this is always a great achievement and I’m very, very happy.”

2018 Roland Garros QF, Clay, Thiem def. Zverev 6-4, 6-2, 6-1
This was a breakthrough tournament for Zverev. Not only was it his first Grand Slam quarter-final, but he carried confidence into the match after beating Thiem just weeks earlier for the Madrid title. The question was: Did the German have the legs to take advantage of the opportunity?

It turns out he did not. Zverev won three consecutive five-setters to make the quarter-finals, while Thiem had only lost three sets in his first four matches. That combined with Thiem’s physical, heavy topspin-based game proved too tough for Zverev in a one-hour, 50-minute victory for the Austrian.

“He’s one of the fittest guys on Tour, and even for him it’s maybe a little bit too tough to play three five-setters in the first rounds of a Slam,” Thiem said. “I expected, somehow, that he [would be] a little bit tired, but still I’m happy how I finished the game. I let him run. I was doing what I had to do, and so I’m satisfied.”

2018 Madrid Final, Clay, Zverev def. Thiem 6-4, 6-4
Not only was this the biggest match of the pair’s ATP Head2Head rivalry — it doesn’t get much bigger than competing in the final of an ATP Masters 1000 event — but a lot had happened in the 15 months since their previous meeting.

Since their 2017 Rotterdam clash, Zverev won his first two Masters 1000 titles, and he was the higher-ranked player at World No. 3. The German was not broken in the entire tournament, nor did he lose a set. He used an impressive display of aggression to dismiss Thiem in straight sets for the trophy.

“All in all, I’m just really happy with how I played,” Zverev said. “Obviously the altitude fits me a little bit with my serve, with how I play, with me playing a little bit more aggressive than maybe others. That definitely fits me. But I just feel confident and comfortable right now.”

2017 Rotterdam R32, Hard, Thiem def. Zverev 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
World No. 8 Thiem arrived in Rotterdam after a disappointing opening-round defeat in Sofia, looking to gain momentum. Zverev, meanwhile, was fresh off a title in Montpellier and pushing Rafael Nadal to five sets at the Australian Open.

But Thiem was far better behind his first serve — winning 77 per cent of those points compared to 61 per cent for Zverev — to take a 4-1 lead in their ATP Head2Head rivalry.

“He’s one of the best players in the world right now. He played an amazing match at the Australian Open against Rafa (Nadal), just won his second title in Montpellier, so it was a horrible draw for me,” Thiem said. “Even though I was 0-4 down I felt pretty good from the start of the match, I was hitting my returns well, used my slice smartly. Overall it was my best performance in a long time. For my confidence this is exactly what I needed, a very good match against a really, really good player.”

Watch over 165 classic ATP Tour matches from the 90s

2016 Beijing R32, Hard, Zverev def. Thiem 4-6, 6-1, 6-3
Zverev earned his first win against Thiem in their first hard-court clash, rallying from a set down to do it. Thiem appeared poised to extend his lead in their series to 4-0, but Zverev won the final four games to earn his fourth Top 10 victory of 2016.

The German broke five times from 14 chances to secure his triumph after one hour and 52 minutes, and he’d beat Jack Sock in the next round to reach his fourth ATP 500 quarter-final of 2016.

2016 Roland Garros R32, Clay, Thiem def. Zverev 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3
Thiem and Zverev got to know each other’s games well in a very short period of time in 2016, playing three times in a month. Although none of those matches was completely one-sided, Thiem relied on his experience to win them all.

The Austrian was the favourite at Roland Garros, given this was Zverev’s first main draw appearance at clay-court major. The 22-year-old Thiem became the first man from his country to reach the fourth round on the Parisian clay since Jurgen Melzer in 2010 (SF).

“I knew already before the match that it was going to be a very tough one against such a great player like Sascha,” Thiem said. “I think the little difference today was probably the three years’ age difference.”

2016 Nice Final, Clay, Thiem def. Zverev 6-4, 3-6, 6-0
Just two weeks after their first clash, these rising stars met in Nice. This time, a trophy was on the line.

Thiem was the defending champion, and he had no intention of relinquishing his crown, using his fitness to battle past the German.

“I spent about 12.5 hours on court this week, so I’m a bit tired,” Zverev said. “Against a player like Dominic, who is one of the best clay-court players right now, you have to be at your best to beat him. There’s not a lot of chances.”

2016 Munich SF, Clay, Thiem def. Zverev 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
World No. 49 Zverev, only 19, had a lot at stake in his first meeting against Thiem, who was World No. 15. The German was trying to reach his first ATP Tour final on home soil, and he was just two wins from claiming his first tour-level title.

But the Austrian erased eight of 11 break points faced and broke the teen six times to prevail in three sets.

“It’s unbelievable how he plays at 19 years old,” Thiem said. “I lost the first set and then I changed a little bit… more slice, more drop shots, and I think this was one of the key points to win it.”

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Millman's Motivation: 'I've Never Wanted To Stagnate'

  • Posted: May 10, 2020

Millman’s Motivation: ‘I’ve Never Wanted To Stagnate’

Aussie opens up in interview with Woodbridge

John Millman will be ready to hit the ground running when action resumes on Tour.

The Aussie is at home in Brisbane and has remained devoted to his off-court training. Although not having access to his normal equipment has forced him to get creative, the 30-year-old believes he could return stronger than ever.

Tennis At Home | How ATP Players Make The Most Of Stay At Home

“I’ve got the home gym setup, every app under the sun with the indoor training bikes. I’m connecting to a few of the Aussie players who also have those apps and am just trying to stay fit,” Millman said to former doubles World No. 1 Todd Woodbridge in a recent video interview for Tennis Australia. “A big part of my game is my physicality and I don’t want to lose that, but it’s quite easy to when you’re spending a fair bit of time away from the day-in, day-out grind of the Tour.

“There are little things that you’re always looking to improve and I think that’s helped me throughout my career. I’ve never wanted to stagnate. I’m a big believer that the game of tennis is constantly evolving and you have to evolve with it or you get left behind. It’s tough to get the on-court time now, but you can get stronger in the legs and upper body.”

Millman isn’t a stranger to long stretches of time at home. He’s endured extended periods of rehab throughout his career after two significant shoulder surgeries and a groin surgery. But the baseliner admitted that time away from competition due to the current pandemic has posed a different mental challenge to overcome.

“The tough thing about this is that motivation and not having an end date in mind,” Millman said. “With the surgeries, you could earmark tournaments where you thought you could get back… I think setting daily goals and daily routines can help with keeping that motivation nice and high.”

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Millman has also increased his presence on social media in recent weeks, reflecting on past moments in his career and sharing his views on the sport. His clear passion for the game has led many fans to suggest that he should become an advocate for his fellow players and the Aussie said he would welcome the opportunity.

“I’ve been approached a couple of times to run [for ATP Player Council], but my biggest problem is that you have to commit to a three-year term as a player. With all of my injury history… There was never a point in my career where I thought I had three years left,” Millman said. “But I’m very interested in the governance of the game… In the future, even if it’s post-tennis, being involved in the administration side of the game is something that greatly interests me.”

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Five Things To Know About Lucas Pouille

  • Posted: May 10, 2020

Five Things To Know About Lucas Pouille

Learn more about the 26-year-old’s unique achievements, love of Dubai and more

Lucas Pouille is a five-time ATP Tour titlist and a former Top 10 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings. looks at five things you should know about the Frenchman.

1) He Does Not Fear Match Points
From April 2017 to February 2018, Pouille lifted three titles on the ATP Tour after saving match point.

In his opening match at the 2017 Hungarian Open in Budapest, the Frenchman saved two match points before lifting the trophy. He repeated the feat two months later, saving one match point in the second round during his title run at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart.

In front of home support at the 2018 Open Sud de France in Montpellier, Pouille completed a hattrick of unlikely titles. The 6’1” right-hander saved two match points during a semi-final clash against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and beat three-time champion Richard Gasquet in straight sets to claim his fifth ATP Tour title.


2) He Stood Alone In 2017
Alongside trophies in Budapest and Stuttgart, Pouille captured the biggest title of his career at the 2017 Erste Bank Open in Vienna. The title run placed Pouille ahead of his peers in 2017 as the only man to win a tour-level trophy on each of the ATP Tour’s three surfaces: hard (Vienna), clay (Budapest) and grass (Stuttgart).

It is the only season when Pouille has won multiple ATP Tour trophies. The former World No. 10 also lifted tour-level crowns at home in Metz (2016) and Montpellier (2018).

Tennis At Home | How ATP Players Make The Most Of Stay At Home

3) The Dubai Lifestyle Suits Him Well
When he isn’t travelling on the ATP Tour, Pouille lives in Dubai with his wife, Clemence. The 26-year-old enjoys life in the United Arab Emirates, where he practises during the off-season. The 2018 Dubai runner-up occasionally trains with Roger Federer in the city. Ahead of the 2017 ATP Tour season, Federer hosted a live practice session with Pouille in Dubai via Periscope.

“I do like my life here [in Dubai]. Where we live is very nice. Where we practise is great, the facilities,” said Pouille. “The normal life is very enjoyable. There are a lot of things to do.”

4) He Is Coached By A Former WTA Star
After dropping from No. 10 to No. 32 in the FedEx ATP Rankings in 2018, Pouille hired former WTA World No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion Amelie Mauresmo as his coach at the start of the 2019 season.

“I thought Amelie was the perfect person to be part of my project and to make me improve in my tennis,” said Pouille. “I think I made the right choice.”

Mauresmo, who had previously worked with Andy Murray from 2014-2016, had an immediate impact. Pouille entered the 2019 Australian Open with a 0-5 tournament record, but battled through the draw with back-to-back four-set victories against Borna Coric and Milos Raonic to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final.

“She is really motivated, focussed and ambitious,” said Pouille. “That is all I wanted. She is a hard worker. She used to be a hard worker when she was a player, that is all she is as a coach as well.”

5) Going The Distance Is Not An Issue
 Pouille proved his physical and mental strength at the 2016 US Open. The Frenchman played 19 sets in his first four matches to reach his second straight Grand Slam quarter-final.

After beating Mikhail Kukushkin in four sets, Pouille outlasted Marco Chiudinelli and Roberto Bautista Agut in five sets to book a meeting with Rafael Nadal under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Despite his fatigue and the bruising game style of his opponent, Pouille overcame Nadal for the first time in a dramatic final-set tie-break after four hours and seven minutes.

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